A brief history of Pilates, an overview of three Pilates exercise models, what Pilates exercise and equipment are designed to do for fitness and health.
The Teens Health fitness web page provides (author unknown) information, dated and reviewed April 2007, by Steven Dowshen MD, with an overview of Pilates (pronounced: puh-LAH-teez) exercises and health benefits. Teens Health states that the founder of the Pilates exercise method was Joseph H. Pilates, born in Germany. He was a nurse during World War I, and he designed exercise methods and equipment for soldiers and hospital patients. The article says, “….[he] developed a series of mat exercises…the mind-body formats of yoga and Chinese martial arts.” The site, according to Teens Health, is a project of Nemours, founded by Alfred I. DuPont, in 1936. Nemours engages in and supports scientific and clinical research as well as children’s health facilities.
Health Benefits to Pilates Equipment & Exercise
The Teens Health fitness page says that Pilates exercises can be performed on a mat and that there are many different exercise routines. Also, “…[Pilates] exercise of choice for dancers and gymnasts…” The purpose of the controlled movements is for strength and body tone. In addition, the medical advice on the page states, “People who do Pilates regularly feel they have better posture, are less prone to injury, and experience better overall health.” Also saying that “…physical and mental health are intertwined. “ Teens Health advises that the Pilates exercise routine is for body toning and strength using the principle of resistance. The following tips are provided during workouts:
- Focus & harmonize breathing with body movements.
- Wear comfortable clothes and do not wear shoes.
- Avoid fast and jerky movements.
- Don’t forget about heart health. Do the exercises more quickly without jerky movements.
- Combine aerobic exercises such as walking and biking to increase heart rate.
- Before beginning an exercise routine consults your doctor.
The Pilates Ball & Pilates Chair & Pilates Reformer
The Pilates Insight: “Your Independent Resource for Pilates Information,” on the home page, provides information about Pilates exercise equipment. The site is owned by Moxy Media located in Guelph, Ontario Canada. Moxy Media claims, on the Pilates Insight “contact” page that the web site is “…an independent information guide edited and maintained by Moxy Media…this site does not sell products directly and is not affiliated with any individual manufacturer.” The information presented on the home page was updated in 2008, and the author is unknown. The site provides a list of Pilates equipment and an overview of how used.
Pilates Insight has a “Pilates Ball” link to information about Pilates balls, use, and benefits. The information states about the Pilates Swiss Ball, Stability Ball, Gym Ball, Fit Ball, “…whatever name it goes by, these balls are utilized for additions to workouts and fit with Pilates principles [mind & body].” The information also states that “The round shell of a sphere is an unstable surface, so when you lie, sit, or lean on it, you must continually balance yourself. These adjustments help isolate and activate the deepest muscle layers…”
The Pilates Chair [such as the Malibu Pilates Chair and other brand names] is also known as the Wunda Chair or Stability Chair according to Pilates Insight. The chair is not “…necessarily a sit-down workout…75 exercises can be performed on the chair.”
The site makes this statement about the Pilates Reformer, “Perhaps the most renowned of all Pilates equipment is the Reformer. With its sophisticated system…more than 100 exercises can be performed…”
Pilates exercise equipment, according to the sources mentioned, is for shaping and toning muscles of the entire body, to be combined with breathing, mental concentration, and aerobic exercises. In addition, Pilates exercises offer improvement in flexibility, strength, balance, and health.